Wintertime is Primetime for Perch Fishing

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

A beach fisherman surveys surf conditions as another big swell rolls into Monterey Bay this week.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing

by Allen Bushnell

Happy New Year! First things first: Be sure to purchase your 2020 fishing license! It is very convenient these days. The entire process can be accomplished online at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. A number of local tackle shops and outdoor retailers can provide over-the-counter service for licenses, supplemental permits and fish report cards. Steelhead, inland salmon and sturgeon all require separate permits in order to fish for them legally. You can purchase the extra permits at any time during the year, once you have your basic fishing license. Other options include the “Sport Ocean Enhancement Validation,” necessary if you are fishing in the salt south of Point Conception, and the “2020 Second-Rod Sport Fishing Validation” that allows you to use an extra rod while fishing inland freshwaters. We are allowed to use multiple rods while fishing the ocean without having the second-rod validation. The saltwater rules for multiple rods are species specific, so always be sure to check the regulations before taking that fishing trip.

Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine gave a good overview early this week on conditions in Santa Cruz. Fraser reports, “The weather was nice today and the anglers found some quality rockfish, lingcod, and crab. The rockfishing was good near Davenport in the deep water. Crab fishing is still doing best in 220-280 feet of water. The perch fishing was good near Blacks Point today near the harbor.” Rockfish season closed after Tuesday this week, but the boys aboard the beautiful Miss Beth from Go Fish Santa Cruz capitalized on good conditions Monday. Beth Norton reported, “Captain Greg took the clients to fish the deep near Davenport today. They did two drifts to get limits of a variety of rock fish including big yellow tail and boccaccio. They then headed to the crab grounds where they pulled five pots to get limits for everyone – sixty Dungeness crab.” Launching from Moss Landing, the Kahuna closed out the year with a full day trip for 25 anglers that netted 10 lingcod and 150 rockfish. Chris’ Fishing Trips from Monterey has transitioned to target sand dabs on their crab combo trips. On Wednesday, Chris’ reported 54 Dungeness crab caught for the nine anglers aboard the Check Mate, and “lots” of sand dabs. They catch so many of the small sole fish they don’t really keep track. Think bucket loads.

Wintertime is primetime for perch fishing. In what seems to be an unending series of big long-period swells, beaches are being restructured, creating troughs and holes that hold the feeding perch. Be very wary and pay attention to weather and surf forecasts. This latest big swell was forecast to include waves as big as 10-12 feet with a period of 16-20 seconds. This means big, powerful waves including wicked currents. Surfcasters are advised to use extreme caution and always watch for sneaker sets.

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